7 Dietitian-Approved Tips to Eating Healthy at Restaurants

Eating out at restaurants can be tricky when you’re trying to be healthy — but these top seven dietitian-approved tips can help you to navigate the restaurant scene.

1. Don’t Restrict Before You Go

It can be tempting to eat a smaller breakfast or lunch on days when you know you have a meal out that night. But, this can backfire — not eating enough before dinner can leave you feeling ravenous and possibly eating more than you usually would at the restaurant. Instead, fuel up throughout the day with fiber, protein, and healthy fats. 

2. Scan the Menu Beforehand

Don’t be blindsided — take a look at the menu before you go (most restaurants have full menus available online.) This can encourage you to make mindful decisions, rather than a decision made in the moment, which might not be the healthiest choice. 

3. Skip the Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks, like soda, juice, or sweetened cocktails, can derail an otherwise healthy meal. Try sticking to water, plain iced tea, wine, light beer, or less-sweet cocktails. 

4. Watch Your Portions

Restaurants are notorious for their too-big portion sizes. If your meal comes out looking like it could feed a family of four, ask the server to bring you a to-go box and immediately add half of it to the container to bring home. However, if you are truly hungry after finishing your first portion, don’t starve yourself — eat!  

5. Aim for Veggies and Protein

Although it can be tempting to order the most decadent thing on the menu, a more balanced plate that contains vegetables and protein is a healthier way to dine. If your main dish doesn’t have any veggies coming with it, try looking at the “sides” section and add one on. 

6. Substitute What You Need

Don’t be afraid to ask the server for any substitutions that you may want. Whether it’s asking for a lettuce wrap instead of a burger bun, or dressing on the side of your salad, they will likely be able to accommodate your healthy request. 

7. Only Order “Worth-It” Items

If you’re at a restaurant that’s famous for its desserts, and you have an absolute favorite one, then get it! Rather than depriving yourself of something you love, mindfully eat it — or try sharing it with someone. However, if something isn’t “worth it” to you (such as, everyone orders cheesecake but you don’t love cheesecake) then skip it! You don’t have to eat everything just because it’s there.

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